Half of the world population resides in urban areas and projections reveal that by 2050 this number could increase to 66%. Two-thirds of people on Earth will be living in cities in the near future. This urban expansion will only lead to more built environments, probably at the expense of green spaces. According to studies, environments devoid of nature can have a negative effect because the human body, mind, and senses flourish in a bio-centric world. Closer association with green spaces supports quality of life and can improve psychological health.
Green Infrastructure and nature-based solutions don’t just benefit urban populations but individual cities’ resilience and infrastructure. Green roofs and rain gardens have been shown to reduce local flooding, economic loss, and discomfort due to weather events. Green roofs in particular have been shown to have a large impact on stormwater runoff and peak flows according to the studies conducted by Bengtsson in 2005 and Stovin in 2010.
According to a report for the Health Council of the Netherlands, there is a positive link between health indicators and living close to nature. In fact, contact with natural surroundings has been reported to improve attention span, reduce stress, and have a positive effect on mental restoration by coping with attention deficits. And these are just the mental advantages of living amidst natural surroundings. Green spaces also impact physical health.
In current times, where stress and work pressures are at an all-time high, the value of green spaces can be measured in gold. Stress can result in many health complications such as cardiovascular disease, anxiety disorders, and depression. A walk in the neighborhood park, garden, or even natural features around residences will go a long way in reducing stress. Studies have shown that even brief exposure to nature can result in stress reduction and can promote well-being.
The wonderful healing capabilities and the general positivity of green spaces come from the fact that they correlate with physical activity which, in turn, promotes health. Take the case of your neighborhood park or garden. You can frequently spot people walking, running, or sitting with friends. Both physical activity and social networking have great potential for improving health. Green spaces also provide people with a temporary escape from everyday demands and grueling routines, which can be refreshing and reenergizing.
So, how do green spaces in urban areas perform so well? How are they so therapeutic? For one, green spaces create healthy air. Fewer pollutants and more humidity have a profound impact on human fitness and better health. Secondly, the plants emit fragrances that humans find pleasant. Thirdly, the visual experience of plants sparks our interest, curiosity, imagination, and creativity. It moves us, both emotionally and intellectually. Green spaces are responsible for multisensory encounters with nature and greatly contribute to comfort, satisfaction, enjoyment, and cognitive performance.
Green spaces are natural-based solutions for most cities’ infrastructure challenges. Interacting with nature has been a big part of human evolution and it continues to play a significant role in our physical and mental well-being. Humans possess an inherent inclination to affiliate with nature and green spaces in urban chaos go a long way in nurturing and developing this tendency.